Love is in the air – 100ft in the air in fact – for Eindhoven couple

A Dutch couple who visited Larne have returned home with a very special story to tell their family and friends.

Jacqueline Van Gerwin, from Eindhoven, travelled to Northern Ireland with her boyfriend, Jeroen Van Willigen.

Jeroen Van Willigen and Jacqueline Van Gerwen pictured at Carrick-a-rede rope bridge near Ballintoy.  INLT 15-687-CON

Jeroen Van Willigen and Jacqueline Van Gerwen pictured at Carrick-a-rede rope bridge near Ballintoy. INLT 15-687-CON

The trip was an especially emotional one for Jacqueline, as she came to visit the grave of her mother, a former Larne woman by the name of Imelda Hegarty.

Jacqueline, 35, told the Larne Times: “My mother came from Larne and was visiting Holland when she met my father. They fell in love, got married and two years later I was born.”

When Imelda passed away in 2011, she was cremated in Holland, but her ashes were brought back to Larne to be placed on a family grave at Greenland Cemetery.

“Sunday, April 6 would have been my mother’s birthday, so I wanted to visit the grave to place a memorial stone for her,” Jacqueline added.

“My boyfriend Jeroen had never visited Northern Ireland before and he wanted to make the trip with me.”

However, unbeknown to Jacqueline, 33-year-old Jeroen had plans to make the trip one that neither he nor Jacqueline would ever forget.

Jeroen said: “Jacqueline and I have been together for over a year and I had been planning to propose to her for a few weeks.

“I carried out a bit of research to try find the perfect place in Northern Ireland to propose.

“She told me she liked the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge near Ballintoy, so I decided that was where I should do it.”

When the pair travelled to the north coast on the pretence of taking in some of the local sights, Jeroen was ready to spring into action.

Despite his intricate and best laid plans, Jeroen’s nerves almost got the better of him.

“I hid a red rose hidden in my jacket, which didn’t fit and I actually ended up ripping the inside of the jacket.

“When we got to Carrick-a-Rede I was definitely scared – by both the height of the bridge and by what I was about to do.

“But when I saw the view I knew that it was the right moment.

“I took the rose out of my jacket, got on one knee and popped the question.

Jacqueline admits that Jeroen’s proposal completely caught her off guard.

“It was a total surprise to me, but of course I said ‘yes’”, she added.

The happy couple rounded off their perfect day with a visit to the Bushmills Distillery, where they picked up a very special memento; a 12-year-old of bottle of whiskey with message on the label commemorating the date of their engagement.

Jeroen concluded: “I have really enjoyed my first visit to Larne. The owners of Derrin Guest House, where we have been staying, were very welcoming; and they make an excellent Ulster fry!”

The pair intend to tie the knot later this year.